RC RTR vs. RC Kit – Which one should you choose?!

Ready to Run (RTR) or RC Kits ?!

Another age old debate with equal supporters from both sides of the crowd.

In recent years, life has become fast paced, and RTR vehicles have gained tremendous popularity.

RC RTR although good for the beginners, cannot really compare against the flexibility and customization that RC Kits offer.

Can you really be the top racer in your area with a RTR kit?

What are the advantages of RC Kits over RTR and vice versa?

And ultimately, which one is best suited for your needs?

Read through this detailed comparison to find out the unique features offered by both classes:

What Are RC RTR Vehicles?

RC RTR or Ready To Run cars, are simply plug n play. They come fully furnished, just like a car you would buy from a showroom.

Most you would need to do is charge up your battery and you are all set. They can be a perfect gift for your boy who is just learning the ropes of RC racing.

However problems with RTR arise when something inside breaks. Maybe a connecting rod came loose, or a pinion gear got damaged, or perhaps the servo got fried.

Oh no, now you are stuck with a useless metal junk which you cannot drive unless you fix it up yourself. That is where your RC Kits knowledge comes into play.

What Are RC Kits?

RC Kits are way different than RTR and equally harder to setup.

They may take from a few days to weeks, in order to get them assembled.

You buy a box full of parts and connect each and every part to build your car, from the tiny screw to the ESC controller.

Typically you will start with building the chassis frame, then installing the suspension, transmission, gear assembly, differentials and the electronics.

In case of a Nitro RC, similar steps will have to be taken to get the engine setup.

Even the body comes as mere frame, which you will be modifying and painting according to your needs.

By the end of all this, you will get a car which you know down to the bones….. well in this case screws!

So why would you make all this effort when you could simply get a RTR? Because, it gives you the necessary knowledge to perform upgrades and repair in future.

What’s the major differences between RC RTR and RC Kits?

As explained RC RTR cars are ready to go the moment you set them on the ground. There are many more differences between the two classes:

1) Electronics and Radio Controls

Generally speaking, the electronics for an upgraded RC Kit are far better than a ready-to-run model. With RTR you get NimH batteries, low quality servo and motor.

If you are only into bashing, then RTR electronics will suit your needs. But if you want to be a serious racer, then sooner or later you will have to upgrade. To save you the trouble, you can do upgrades with RC Kit right at the start!

2) Customizable Body

With RC Kit you get to build your own body and paint it with the colors you want. RTR comes with factory paint which cannot be modified or changed in anyway. So if you are buying a RTR please do not choose the color you hate.

3) Mechanical Knowledge and Expertise Level

That is where RTR shines. You do not have to be a mechanic, tech or a gear head. It is perfect for beginners or for someone who does not have enough time to assemble everything.

If a problem arises, you can simply get your car repaired at your local hobby shop. Though, they charge a hefty fee, I might add.

With RC Kits, you need some mechanical knowledge and hand coordination. Of course, anyone can learn how to assemble RC Kit, but the learning curve is steep and you might get frustrated in the process.

4) Price

Price is harder to compare, generally RTRs cost 100-200$ more than kit models. However, kits can end up costing more if you plan for the expensive upgrades.

Normally you can buy cheap parts at EBay or other auction areas for your RC Kit. That may cause the price to turn in favor of RC Kits, but ultimately the final price comes down to your choices.

5) Performance

A correctly assembled RC Kit with all the proper upgrades will almost always outperform a RTR model. The factory settings of RTRs are designed for convenience not ultimate performance.

Advantages and Disadvantages of RC Kits

Advantages Disadvantages
  •  The biggest advantage is the assembly aspect. You get to build your ultimate car which maybe better than factory settings. You choose which holes to use for mounting frame and whether you need metallic part or plastic. You will learn about every aspect of your RC.
  • Building from a kit brings a great feeling of accomplishment and achievement. You started with hundreds of small parts and then built them into a racing monster. That is satisfaction which can never be matched with a RTR model.
  • You can install high performance upgrades prior to assembly. In the process, you can get rid of unwanted or subpar parts such as plastics, weak battery cells, motors, and gears.
  • You save cost by buying cheap and reliable parts. Best part, you do not need mechanics or others to fix your car. You can easily pull it apart and fix the necessary components.
  • Custom painting your body is another advantage. You can give it the look you really want, using a variety of color and paint combinations.
  •  The whole process requires skill and takes a lot of time. You cannot get the car up and running within minutes, instead you will have to wait for the final result.
  • You might need to make a lot of purchases for necessary parts that may not have come with the kit. That will require access to local hobby shop or online market places where you do not get ripped off.
  • There is a chance; you might not assemble your car the right way. A lot of trial and error maybe involved.
  • You will also need to invest in screw drivers, pliers, cutters, wrenches, glue, tweezers and other repair equipment.

Advantages and Disadvantages of RC RTR

Advantages Disadvantages
  • The biggest advantage is the instant satisfaction you feel when you start running your RC in no time at all. The sound of car as you engage the throttle on your receiver is really sweet and best part is; no waiting!
  • It is very easy; you can safely rely on the established companies with decades of experience. Just charge your battery or fuel up your car and you are ready to go.
  • You do not need to invest in buying new batteries, electronics, tools, gears, suspension and other parts. Everything is set up for you. You basically get a car delivered straight out of the show room.
  • Initial cost of an RTR maybe expensive, and would end up costing a LOT more with right upgrades.
  • You get redundant equipment such as extra radio receivers, useless Nimh batteries which you may not need. All of it is just wasted money.
  • You cannot custom design or paint body. If your monster truck came in pink color, then you will have to deal with it! Sorry, no way around that.
  • To install new upgrades — necessary in most cases — you will have to dismantle your car anyways. If you had pre-built your kit, you would know how to do it.


We can say that the choice of the RC vehicle is entirely dependent upon your needs, commitment and level of experience.

Kits are the most fun for hard-core hobbyists, however, for novice it might not be their cup of tea.

If you’re a beginner then we would suggest getting a reputable RC RTR, play with it and build/customize your RC.

This give you an idea of what type of hobbyist you want to be.

If you need more information about RC hobbies, please check out these forums RCgroups, R/C tech and RC Universe.

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